Fine art wedding photography or alternative documentary wedding photography....what would you choose?

That perennial question of wedding photography style….

So, recently, outside of my work, I have been asked quite a few times what my style of photography is. Am I fine art wedding photography or am I alternative, documentary wedding photography. You would think, for me, it would be a simple answer, right? Well it is. I am an alternative documentary style wedding photographer. Well, that’s what I say I am! So I am!

But I get it could be a tricky distinction for someone else. If you’re doing the whole getting wed thing for the first time, you’re probably not sure who does what, what that actually is and what the differences are etc. It’s a daunting issue, I will admit.

So, below are my musings on this topic. What do you think?

Fine Art Wedding Photography

Fine art wedding photography is beautiful. Classically beautiful. It has a nuance and a romantic, ethereal aspect to someones wedding. Usually highly stylised and shot in a way that makes the image look like a work of art rather than a straight up photo. The processing of fine art wedding photography images at the editing stage usually gives the images a much more soft edged feel, more light and given a perceived elegance to them. The images are captured in a slightly staged way, to capture the beauty of a moment between a couple, or to show of the venue, the dress and a whole heap of things. And if you’re a confident couple and have a photographer who is adept at pulling fine art wedding photography, then it can be done with panache and real beauty. No doubt.

But I touch on one aspect that isn’t always someones cup of tea. Some couples just don’t want to do the posing or feel uncomfortable like that. If fine art wedding photography is the style of imagery you want, then you have to know that sometimes a lot of that kind of work is very staged and posed and if you know that, you have to bite the bullet and go with it. It can also take a little more time out of your day to capture the shot. Again, if that is what you like and want, then go for it! It’s your day and your memories and your style and you have to be happy with that. Who am I to tell you what you should or shouldn’t choose? But, it’s not always for some.

Captured on the Sheffield Moors purely to get that Fine Art Wedding Photography look. The light, the landscape, the pose….illustrates it perfectly

Captured on the Sheffield Moors purely to get that Fine Art Wedding Photography look. The light, the landscape, the pose….illustrates it perfectly

Captured at Longstowe Hall, this was more of an alternative and different wedding, one which I very much captured as an alternative, documentary style. But these images were much more along the fine art look. So the elements can overlap.

Captured at Longstowe Hall, this was more of an alternative and different wedding, one which I very much captured as an alternative, documentary style. But these images were much more along the fine art look. So the elements can overlap.

Captured at Rectory Farm, a much more traditional wedding I would say that was captured with elements of both fine art and alternative documentary photography throughout the day

Captured at Rectory Farm, a much more traditional wedding I would say that was captured with elements of both fine art and alternative documentary photography throughout the day

Alternative Documentary Wedding Photography

This is a whole other proposition and anyone who says they shoot that style will tell you that on the whole, it’s about capturing a story of the day for the couple. Those moments, those memories that the couple don’t necessarily get to see, the candid’s, the mad as a box of frogs friends getting their groove on, family making arses of themselves….and so on. Like myself, as you can see if you check that link, there is still going to be time for those big “showstopper” images if you want them, but they tend to be less posed, more about having fun, taking time away from the crowd and having some well earned “you” time. Relaxed, chilled and usually the couple are more open at that point to doing one or two posed images that are more fun portraits rather than stylised artistry of fine art wedding photography. Alternative documentary wedding photography can still look just as beautiful, but in a much more relaxed way. Alternative documentary wedding photography means seeing stuff, capturing things from a different perspective, seeing things others wouldn’t, making an image that maybe others would think isn’t worth making an image of. Alternative documentary wedding photography has the potential to be a much more haphazard way of shooting, but when someone is skilled and adept at anticipation and seeing moments happening, those are moments are ones that not only the couple can really relate to when they get their images, but everyone else who sees the images relate to aswell. Informal, different, a bit loose and frequently imaginative, alternative documentary wedding photography is a style that really centres on the fun aspect of a wedding. If you’re that person, then maybe this is the style for you.

Classically alternative documentary wedding photography style, the look, the feel, the relaxed chilled vibe….and not in any way traditional at all. This is my kind of photography!

Classically alternative documentary wedding photography style, the look, the feel, the relaxed chilled vibe….and not in any way traditional at all. This is my kind of photography!

Shot at the Willow Tree in Cambridge, this wedding had all the elements of Alternative Documentary Wedding Photography…..almost a mini festival! Outside, a tipi, a live band made up of the guests, a chilled party atmosphere….a wonderful day

Shot at the Willow Tree in Cambridge, this wedding had all the elements of Alternative Documentary Wedding Photography…..almost a mini festival! Outside, a tipi, a live band made up of the guests, a chilled party atmosphere….a wonderful day

Another one from the same wedding. The bride letting go and simply going for it and having the best time. It’s all that encompasses alternative documentary wedding photography

Another one from the same wedding. The bride letting go and simply going for it and having the best time. It’s all that encompasses alternative documentary wedding photography

I adore this image. This really is alternative, documentary wedding photography as it is meant. Right in the thick of things!

I adore this image. This really is alternative, documentary wedding photography as it is meant. Right in the thick of things!

Now, here’s the the bit that will bend your head…..There are a heck of a lot more elements to this that will determine how your images look….the venues, the styling, the themes, the clothes…..it will all work to what kind of photographer you would want. There are many photographers out there who will say they do one or the other style (or something else I may not have covered). But almost all will do elements of both styles in some way or the other and factor in all of those elements when creating their photos. For instance, a venue like Longstowe Hall in Cambridgeshire lends itself very much to a fine art wedding photography style, but that doesn’t mean to say it can’t cater for alternative, documentary wedding photography and make it look good! See the images above and all will be explained. So, bare in mind that when hiring your photographer. Ultimately, you have things to consider….do you like the look of the images that photographer produces? Do you like them as a person (that bit is kinda important…)? Is how they work the right way for you? Do they drink tea or coffee at the first meeting? Etc etc….

And don’t get me started on the other ways people sell themselves and their styles…..boho wedding photographers (I have elements of that), chic wedding photographer (me not so much) and so on…..there are so many styles it will blow your mind. All valid of course. But makes it all so confusing…

Have a think what suits you, look for that, go with it. Consider everything. Meet up, have a cuppa, put a deposit down and sit back and let me do the rest….

What’s you’re thinking? Does any of this ring true for you? If you’re in the mindset of the latter, in the process of organising your wedding and don’t have your photographer yet, get in touch. Happy to have a chinwag about this more and explain, or talk over your day or whatever. Look forward to hearing from you!